Democratic members of Congress introduced legislation Tuesday to provide additional funding for coal miners suffering from black lung. The bills came as a contingent of Appalachian miners afflicted with the disease lobbied lawmakers for more support.
“It doesn’t only take your health. It takes your identity,” Barry Johnson said of the disease. Johnson is a fourth-generation coal miner from Letcher County, Kentucky, who made the trip to Washington with his oxygen tank in tow.
A bill introduced in the House by Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia and Rep. Alma Adams of North Carolina would restore a tax on coal that supports the federal Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, which provides benefits for some 25,000 disabled miners and their families.